FBCL-Safeguarding Children Policy 2014

1. Introduction

FBCL recognises its responsibility to safeguard, and promote the welfare of children within the legal framework of the Children Act 1989, and 2004.

We are aware that many children and young people are the victims of different kinds of abuse, and that they can be subjected to social factors that have an adverse impact upon their lives.  The main categories of abuse are:

  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Exposure to the effects of domestic violence
  • Female Genital Mutilation, honour based violence and forced marriage

We aim to create a safe environment where children and young people can be a child/young person.

These guidelines are for the use of all paid staff and volunteers as well as visitors to the library.  They will be available to anyone connected to and using the library.

 

Through these guidelines we will ensure that:

  • Children and young people are listened to, valued and respected
  • Staff and volunteers are aware of the need to be alert to the signs of abuse, and know what to do with their concerns
  • All paid and unpaid staff are given appropriate support, procedures and training.
  • All concerns are acted upon immediately – and brought to the attention of the designated safeguarding officer (appointed by the trustees).

 

2. Legal Background

The safety and well-being of children is enshrined in a number of key Acts and documents, most notably The Children Act (1989 and 2004) and the U.N Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) Collectively these acts place a duty on organisations to safeguard children.  This means a duty to protect children from impairment, to prevent impairment and to promote well-being. 

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) guidelines, A Safe Place for Children, state:

Public library staff do not assume the responsibility of a parent but do have a responsibility to provide for the care, control and safety of children visiting libraries.  The ultimate responsibility for the child rests with the parent. 

Library staff in charge of events (where parents/ carers are not present) should take such care of those children as a reasonable parent would take.  This will be a personal responsibility of the staff member/volunteer and of that person’s employer.

 

Even if staff do not take on the responsibility of looking after children, their employers owe a duty of care under the Occupier’s Liability Act of 1957.  This duty is to take such care as is in all the circumstances reasonable to ensure that visitors will be reasonably safe in using the premises for the purpose for which they are permitted to be there.  The standard of care expected in relation to children is higher than in relation to adults because staff must expect children to be less careful than adults.  In the unlikely event that there is on the premises anything which is both an allurement and danger to children, the 1957 Act requires that reasonable care must be taken to protect them from that danger. (ASPfC, P1-2)

FBCL adheres to the London-wide Child Protection Procedures .  These procedures became effective from 1 November 2003, and were last revised in December 2010.  The procedures cover how to recognise and respond to abuse, case conference processes, investigation, assessment and monitoring. They also deal with issues around mental health, looked after children, missing children and child trafficking and exploitation.  Further details and a copy of the procedures can be found at:

http://www.londonscb.gov.uk/procedures/

 

3. Categories of abuse

All children can become at risk of abuse.  Children may be abused in a family, in an institution or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger.

 

Neglect

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development.  It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter or clothing; failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger; or failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.  It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

 

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse or injury deliberately inflicted upon a child may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.  Physical harm may also occur when a parent or carer invents the symptoms of, or deliberately causes, ill health to a child whom they are looking after (children in whom illness is fabricated or induced).

 

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development.  It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless, unloved or inadequate.  It may include making them feel rejected, criticised, bullied, being constantly ignored or scapegoated and/or that the adult is finding fault with the child as a human being.  It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations imposed on children.

Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill-treatment of a child, although it may occur alone.

 

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child (through bribes, threats, physical force) to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening.  The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts.  They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

 

Domestic Violence

Exposure to domestic violence towards a parent, carer, sibling, relative or friend constitutes abuse of the child witnessing emotional of physical abuse towards another.

 

FGM, honour based violence and forced marriage

There are cultural practices that are accepted by specific communities, and cause harm to children.

FGM, honour based violence and forced marriage are illegal in the UK.

 

4.            Maintaining Safety on Site

4.1         Risk assessments

FBCL undertakes risk assessments on an annual basis which take account of library use by children, young people and families.

FBCL retains responsibility for maintaining safety within the buildings irrespective of the organisation delivering a specific event and must challenge any behaviour which undermines visitor and staff/volunteer safety.   Specific risk assessments are required for all activities involving children. These assessments must be reviewed on an annual basis or sooner where the need arises.  Risk assessment must include a Fire Plan detailing fire preventions and evacuation procedures. 

 

4.2         Recording of incidents and accidents

All accidents and incidents must be recorded using the FBCL incident/ accident form.  The designated safeguarding officer will review details of incidents on a regular (at least annual) basis to identify any themes emerging that require changes to prevent recurrence.

 

5             Unsupervised Children

5.1         Children left unattended at closing time

In cases where a child is found unattended at the library closing time, it is the responsibility of the senior member of staff on duty to ensure the safety of the child.  They should:

  • Find out from the child their name, address and telephone number and who should be collecting them;
  • Wait for 15 minutes to allow the parent/ carer time to arrive before taking further action;
  • Arrange for a second member of staff to stay behind after the library closes;
  • After 15 minutes contact the child’s home to arrange collection of the child;
  • If the parent/ carer cannot be reached, telephone the local police.

In no circumstances will staff take the child home.  Unattended children must be kept safe in the library until collected by a parent/ carer or until the arrival of the police.  Two members of staff must be present at all times.  Contact details are maintained for all children participating in any activities where adults are not required to attend with their child.  In these instances parents are required to:

  • Provide full contact details including a mobile phone number where they have one
  • Provide details of any other adults authorised to collect their child on their behalf and where applicable details of anyone NOT authorised to do so.

An incident report must be completed and copied to the designated safeguarding officer on all occasions. 

 

5.2      Children left unattended during an evacuation of the building

If the library has to be evacuated during an emergency, the senior member of staff should:

  • Look out for any child left unattended in the building
  • Ensure that the child is taken to the assembly point by a member of staff.  The staff member should remain with the child during the emergency.
  • Arrange for the parent/ carer to be notified and the child collected unless guided otherwise by the emergency services.
  • An incident report must be completed and copied to the designated safeguarding officer.

 

5.3      Children left unattended at other times

If a young child is left alone in the library, the senior member of staff should first contact the child’s parents.  If the situation persists, a letter will be sent to the parent by the designated safeguarding officer, and Barnet Council’s social care team should be contacted.

Staff must remain generally vigilant about the whereabouts of children even if accompanied by an adult.  Young children can easily wander off and staff should be alert to and prepared to intervene in any potentially dangerous situations (a small child exiting the library, playing near the door etc).   

 

5.4       Missing children

Whilst young children attending events and using the library should always be accompanied by an adult, in the unlikely event of a child going missing the following procedure should be followed:

  • Staff should carry out a thorough search of the building
  • If the child has gone missing from an event, the register should be checked to ensure no other child has gone astray
  • Details of the child’s last known whereabouts should be noted and an incident form completed.
  • If the child is not found, the missing child must be reported to the police and the parent contacted if not also attending the event.

 

6.              Promoting health and hygiene

6.1            Food and drink

Where provided, snacks should be healthy, the aim to promote positive attitudes towards food.

Where snacks are provided the following procedure must be adopted:

  • Parents are made aware of the content/ ingredients of all snacks provided at the beginning of the session
  • Where parents are not present, dietary needs and food allergy information is obtained for all children attending the event.  This information should be included on parental permission forms which must be completed before attendance is confirmed.
  • Snacks provided must be sensitive to children’s diets, allergies and cultural backgrounds

 

6.2            No smoking

FBCL operates a strict no smoking policy.  This extends to external grounds, gardens and entrance ways.  No smoking signs are clearly displayed on the premises.

 

6.3            Administering medicines and first aid

FBCL must hold first aid kits that comply with current regulations and that are regularly checked and maintained.  First aid kits are easily accessible to adults and kept out of reach of children.  FBCL should have a designated first-aider and a first aider will be on site where-ever possible. No un-prescribed medication is given to children, parents or staff.

 

7.              Child Protection

FBCL seeks to ensure that all children enjoy the very best start in life.  This includes identifying and responding to concerns regarding the welfare of children using the service.  Concerns may cover a wide range of issues from inappropriate behaviour; evidence of bruising/ injury to direct and indirect disclosure by parent or child.  FBCL has a responsibility to refer a child to Barnet Children’s Service Social Care when it is believed or suspected that the child has suffered significant harm or is likely to suffer significant harm. 

 Where a member of staff has concerns that a child is likely to suffer harm the following procedure should be followed:

  • Staff should raise all concerns with the designated safeguarding officer.  An incident form should be completed for all concerns however small.
  • Concerns should be referred to the Barnet Children’s Service Social Care Team.  It is important to appreciate that whilst a referral to Barnet Children’s Service Social Care may not reach the threshold requiring assessment and intervention, information received will be put onto the database and will be taken into consideration in the event of further information being received.

A dedicated consultation line has been established by the Social Care Team to enable anyone working with children to ring and discuss their concerns with an experienced senior social worker. The consultation line is available on any Tuesday or Wednesday between 9.30 -11.30am on 020 8359 4336.

If you have immediate concerns about a child you must contact the designated safeguarding officer and alert the Referral & Assessment Duty Team via email to dutyfrontdesk@barnet.gov.uk  by tel: 020 8359 4066 or fax: 020 8455 8032. 

 

8.            Handling Disclosures

Where a child makes comments to a member of staff that give cause for concern (disclosure) the member of staff should:

  • Listen to the child, offering reassurance that action will be taken. – Note that confidentiality cannot be maintained where disclosure relates to a child protection issue.  The child must be made aware that their disclosure may have to be referred to another adult.
  • Make a written record of the disclosure that includes: the date and time of disclosure; the exact words spoken by the child/ young person where possible; the name of the person to whom the concern was reported; the names of any other persons present at the time.
  • These records must be signed and dated and kept securely.  A copy must be sent to the designated safeguarding officer.
  • Refer concern/ disclosure to the Social Care Team as above.
  • Parents should be informed of any concern except where the guidance of the Barnet Safeguarding Board does not allow this.  This will usually be the case where the parent is the likely abuser.  In these cases the investigating officers will inform parents.

 

9.            Adults in Children’s Libraries

 

Staff must maintain a general awareness of who is occupying library space designated for use by children.  In accordance with the library bylaws (revised 2007) staff are at liberty to ask any unaccompanied adult to move to a more appropriate section of the library.  Concerns regarding the behaviour of an adult in the children’s area must be passed on to the senior member of staff.  An incident form must also be completed.    

 

10.      Organised Activities

10.1       General Activities

  • Parents/ carers are required to be present for all activities involving young children.  Children should not be left unaccompanied if under 8 years of age.
  • Publicity advertising such events will clearly state that children attending remain the responsibility of their parents/ carers.
  • Maximum numbers as determined by health and safety and fire regulations should not be exceeded at any event.  When planning events consideration must be given to potential attendance by wider family members and siblings.  Staffing must be appropriate to the number of children/ families attending.
  • FBCL does not require guest speakers to have a Criminal Records Bureau check.  However, guest speakers will not be left alone with children and will be accompanied by at least 1 member of library staff during an event.
  • Any event must include a brief explanation of fire evacuation procedures.

 

10.2       Child-only activities

On occasion children’s activities will involve children and young people being in the library without their parent/ carer present.  Staff in charge of these events will take such care of those children as a reasonable parent would take.  In particular:

  • Registrations should be maintained listing the child’s name, contact details and any relevant medical conditions in case of emergency.  
  • Staffing levels must be appropriate to the number of children attending with a ratio of 1 adult to every child over 8 years old.
  • Parents of children under 8 years old will be required to stay with their child for the duration of the event.

10.3       Outings

From time to time trips may be undertaken from the library.  The following procedures must be applied to ensure that children and young people remain safe during such outings:

  • Parents must sign a consent form prior to the trip. 
  • Emergency contact details are provided for each child.  These details should be held by the trip leader and lodged securely with another staff member not attending the trip.
  • Outing details are recorded at the library including: date and time of outing; venue and mode of transport; names of staff assigned to named children/ young people; time of return.
  • A risk assessment for all trips is carried out prior to the excursion
  • Where parents are not in attendance, adult to child ratios must be appropriate to the age and number of the children attending.  Adults should be assigned to named children.
  • Staff must take a mobile phone and portable first aid kit on all outings
  • Children and parents are instructed to bring sufficient food and drinking water as applicable and to dress appropriately for the outing.

 

11.         Staff

11.1       CRB/DBS checks

The majority of staff and volunteers working in the library are required to obtain an enhanced CRB/DBS disclosure. 

Staff working with children are appropriately qualified and experienced to deliver their roles and responsibilities safely and to a high quality.

Safer recruitment techniques are applied to all appointments and candidates are notified in job adverts that CRB/DBS disclosures will be required.

 

11.2       Avoiding vulnerable situations

Staff should ensure that physical contact with children is appropriate.  This may include assisting parents with multiple children and responding to health and safety concerns and incidents.  Some physical contact may also be necessary in the course of delivering children’s activities safely and effectively.  To ensure that contact is appropriate and safe, staff should adopt the following guidelines:

  • Obtain parental consent (verbally or through body language) before initiating contact with a child unless there are overriding health and safety concerns.
  • If a child needs to use a toilet, they should be accompanied by their parent/ carer.
  • Where children attend sessions without their parents at least 2 staff should be present.

 

11.3       Whistle blowing

Any concerns regarding the behaviour of staff towards children should be raised immediately with the designated safeguarding officer and recorded on an incident form.  All allegations and concerns are investigated thoroughly and appropriate action taken.

 

12           Anti-bullying policy

FBCL does not tolerate bullying of any kind.  Concerns regarding bullying within the library must be reported to the senior member of staff in charge.  Bullying within the library, including computer bullying, may result in the withdrawal of library privileges.

 

13.       Photographing/ Videoing Children

Written permission will be sought before any photographs or video footage is displayed of anyone under the age of 18 years old.  This will normally take the form of a parental signature.

FBCL recognises its responsibility to safeguard, and promote the welfare of children within the legal framework of the Children Act 1989, and 2004.

We are aware that many children and young people are the victims of different kinds of abuse, and that they can be subjected to social factors that have an adverse impact upon their lives.  The main categories of abuse are:

  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Exposure to the effects of domestic violence
  • Female Genital Mutilation, honour based violence and forced marriage

We aim to create a safe environment where children and young people can be a child/young person.

These guidelines are for the use of all paid staff and volunteers as well as visitors to the library.  They will be available to anyone connected to and using the library.

Through these guidelines we will ensure that:

  • Children and young people are listened to, valued and respected
  • Staff and volunteers are aware of the need to be alert to the signs of abuse, and know what to do with their concerns
  • All paid and unpaid staff are given appropriate support, procedures and training.
  • All concerns are acted upon immediately – and brought to the attention of the designated safeguarding officer (appointed by the trustees).

 

 

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